- Travelling at night.
- There was a sudden collision.
- Effects of the collision.
- Measures of relief.
- How I felt after the accident.
It was on one night of October last that I was traveling from Karachi to Peshawar in the Khyber Mail. The train was almost packed to suffocation. It was the dark half of the month. In my compartment we were about fifty souls including a marriage party with a young man nicely dressed, who I suppose, was the bridegroom. Some of us were playing cards, while some were singing songs.
Suddenly the stars disappeared behind the thick dark clouds. I saw the white lightning flashing across the sky like a whip of some angry god. The clouds rumbled in the sky. All of a sudden we were surprised to hear the shrilling whistle of the engine, which went on for a few seconds. Passengers were started and they looked out from the windows but nothing except darkness was visible. The engine seemed to apply the brakes. But at that very moment it dashed against some massive substance.
The engine was heavily damaged and the train, being unable to maintain the balance, was derailed. The engine and the two compartments next to it caught fire. It was a terrible experience which took away my breath. My limbs were benumbed and I forgot myself. After about ten minutes when I looked around I heard the groans, screams and squeals of numerous passengers. I got up and tried to get myself free from the luggage and hands and feet of the wounded. On hearing some shrill of a young child nearby, I took it up in my hands and tried to soothe it. But how should I get out of the compartment? “It took nearly half an hour before I came out.
It was a ghastly scene which would have made any one mad. Death had spread it wings everywhere. Many persons were severely wounded or burnt and many had become senseless. Those, who were fortunately unhurt like me, tried to carry on some rescue work till help from outside arrived. The task was great, the hour momentous. We rushed in any direction from where we heard the groans of the victims. Several of them were taken out of the debris. The rain rendered our”task more difficult. After an hour a special train from Rohri arrived. Hundreds of persons began to resuce and look after the wounded. Doctors, nurses and all others were soon busy with their work. The Collector and the Traffic Superintendent were supervising the work minutely. All efforts were made to save as many lives as possible. This work lasted for the whole night.
Nearly two hundred persons were killed in this accident. The bridegroom in my compartment were killed. A Nawab of a state, a son of a minister, a mill-owner of Multan, some officers of the army were also killed. Some persons could not be identified.
I have never seen such a horrifying sight of the wounded and the dead. It was at once tragic and soul-stunning and has left a permanent melancholy effect on my mind. On further inquiry, I found that our train, collided with the goods train which had stopped in the midst for reasons which I could not know.
The next day I reached Peshawar with a heavy heart. For days together I did not feel at ease. The thought of this accident haunted my mind. Even in sleep I had dreams of this grim accident. While writing these lines after many years its idea makes my blood creep.